Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
What It Is
The cats and dogs are at it again. Specifically, the super-secret agent cats and dogs last seen in 2001’s Cats & Dogs are at war again. This time the opposition is complicated by a few new characters, including the galumphy German shepherd Diggs (voiced by James Marsden) and the shrewd Russian Blue cat Catherine (Christina Applegate).
Diggs and the other dogs haven’t changed much. They still insist on their mission in life, to be man’s best friend. Catherine and her cohorts change their diffident tune, however, when they find one of their own has gone rogue. With the first film’s villain, Mr. Tinkles (Sean Hayes) now incarcerated, the new threat to the world is the crazed, hairless Kitty Galore (Bette Midler). Her plot is over the top, over course, namely, to use a satellite to send out a secret sound signal that will drive all dogs insane and thus make human civilization vulnerable to a feline takeover.
Or, more specifically, a Kitty Galore takeover, as she appears to have only one supporter, a gnarly hench-cat named Paws (Phil LaMarr).
Kitty’s villainous scheme serves mainly to highlight Diggs’ story: an overeager police dog, he’s banished to the kennels after he wreaks havoc while on duty with his human partner Shane (Chris O’Donnell). This leaves him morose, as he’s “been in and out of kennels his whole life,” an indication that he’s in need of a good home as well as redemption. Almost as soon as he’s rescued by Butch (Nick Nolte), Diggs is being tested again: his new mentor calls him a “disaster.” Still, their captain, a beagle with glasses (Neil Patrick Harris), insists they work together to save the world.
It’s only after the dogs join forces with Catherine and a pigeon, Seamus (Katt Williams), and embark on a search for Kitty Galore and her diabolical contraption, that all four very different personalities learn the value of cross-species cooperation and camaraderie.
Why It’s Fun
Much like the first film, this one makes both fun and use of spy-adventure movie conventions, in particular the James Bond pictures. From the opening titles sequence (which features silhouettes of cats and dogs in dramatic poses, as well as Shirley Bassey — who sang “Goldfinger” — belting Pink’s “Get The Party Started”) to the Q-like gadgets in Butch’s collar (lock-pick, grappling hook), the movie gets by with minimal plot and lots of noise. This time that thin apparatus is overlaid by 2010’s favorite add-on, 3D (which once again makes some scenes too dark).
Again and again, the reluctant partners act like protagonists in buddy-cop movies. They bicker, compete, and eventually come to appreciate one another’s special talents, like Diggs’ fearlessness and loyalty or Catherine’s good judgment.
The movie includes some well-worn other-movie references: Mr. Tinkles is locked up in a glass-walled cell, wearing a mask that makes him look like Hannibal Lecter. Roger Moore (one of several Bonds) voices the tuxedoed cat who serves as Catherine’s boss at the secret feline agency, MEOWS. And the pairing of rambunctious Diggs and cranky Butch recalls Nolte’s pairing with Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours (a joke underlined when Butch gripes, “I’m too old for this poop!”).
Who’s Going To Love It
Fans of Cats & Dogs may find something to love in the sequel. But instead of expanding on the original concept, this movie only revisits it.
It doesn’t help that the few humans who do have speaking parts are bland and banal: from Shane to the foolish old cat lady to the top-hatted magician Jack McBrayer — who has his own fan base, thanks to his role as Kenneth on (30 Rock) who keeps coming up with feeble tricks using Kitty Galore, the people are blithely oblivious to the animals’ shenanigans. This despite the fact that said shenanigans involve loud rockets and explosions and vehicular chases.
What To Be Aware Of
First off, the animals are less than convincing, each combing bits of live animal, animatronic mutation, and digital lips in ways that don’t quite come together as a coherent character. Worse, their animal-inspired double entendres repeatedly fall flat (for instance, Kitty Galore is the cat organization’s “spilled milk,” so they plan to “lick her up”).
Second, each dog and cat confronts a character flaw that is only obvious: Diggs has to learn not to hate cats; Catherine has to overcome a fear of water; and Butch — a stodgy-looking Anatolian Shepherd — must become less judgmental.
This lack of subtlety leads to a reliance on stereotypes, both tendencies underscored in the pigeon Seamus, whose “urban” affect, use of slang, and deceptiveness make him the movie’s designated “black” character.
3 out of 10
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Bette Midler, Christina Applegate, Katt Williams, Michael Clarke Duncan, Wallace Shawn, Sean Hayes
Studio: Warner Bros.
US Premiere: July 30, 2010
UK Premiere: August 4, 2010